An assessor evaluates the values of multiple properties—usually entire neighborhoods of homes. Their goal is to determine how much property tax the owners of those properties should pay to the cities, counties and other municipalities they are located in. His or her work is similar to that of a real estate appraiser, who instead of calculating the value of multiple properties, evaluates the value of one property at a time.
There were 78,000 appraisers and assessors of real estate employed in 2012.* Most work for local governments. They generally work full-time hours, during the regular business day.
Although there aren't any federally mandated educational requirements—minimum requirements are usually set by state assessor boards or by individual localities in states that do not have assessor boards—many assessors have bachelor's degrees. Coursework in economics, finance, mathematics, computer science, English, and business or real estate law is useful. Some municipalities hire assessors who have just high school diplomas. Most assessment offices provide on-the-job training but those that do not, hire assessors who get their experience from other sources.
Assessors working in some states must be certified. To get certified they must take basic appraisal courses, pass an examination and work a certain number of hours. To maintain certification they have to take continuing education courses.
In addition to the technical or hard skills, one acquires through formal or on-the-job training, succeeding in this occupation requires certain soft skills. Working under tight time constraints requires good time management skills. One must be well-organized in order to keep track of all the aspects of assessing properties. Good problem-solving skills help assessors deal with unexpected situations.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of assessors is expected to grow more slowly than the average for all occupations through 2022.
Assessors earned a median annual salary of $52,570 and median hourly wages of $25.27* in 2014 (US).
Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to find out how much an assessor currently earns in your city.
A Day in an Assessor's Life
These are some typical job duties taken from online ads for assessor positions found on Indeed.com and GovtJobs.com:
- Determine the use of each property and assign a classification based on that use.
- Prepare valuation schedules for neighborhoods.
- Notify taxpayers annually of the classification and market value of their property.
- Answer property tax questions.
- Inspect residential properties for improvements or deterioration that would affect market value.
- Gather, edit and sort data relative to property sales.
- Appear as an expert witness in conjunction with hearings and lawsuits as needed.
Occupations With Related Tasks and Activities
|Description||Annual Salary (2014)||Educational Requirements|
|Real Estate Appraiser||Estimates values of individual properties||$52,570||Minimum of an associate degree|
|Tax Examiner||Evaluates tax returns for accuracy||$51,120||Bachelor's degree in accounting or a combination of education and experience|
|Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents||Buys, sells and rents residential and commercial properties||
$40,990 (sales agent)
|Minimum of a high school diploma and a license|
|Insurance Claims Adjuster||Determine how much an insurance company should pay for the loss of property.||$62,220||High school diploma|
*Note: The US Bureau of Labor Statistics combines wage and employment data for Appraisers and Assessors of Real Estate
Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Appraisers and Assessors of Real Estate
Employment and Training Administration, US Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Assessors